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Transportation from Heathrow to London on Christmas Day

Hello all,
So, if there is a current thread on this topic, I couldn't find it. All of the threads that came up were old and the information has changed! So I thought Heathrow Express was running on Christmas Day. Apparently not... The old threads said it ran 365 days a year! Anyhow, can I take for granted that cabs will be around on that day? I know that will cost about $100 (our hotel is near King's Cross). Does anyone know of any money saving alternatives? Thanks!

Posted by
932 posts

Let me add: This was the response that I got when I put in Christmas Day on the Heathrow Express website:
"Heathrow Express will not be running a service on December 25 and 26.
This is due to Crossrail works being carried out by Network Rail."
I have absolutely no idea what that means...

Posted by
1063 posts

From memory, there was a HEX replacement bus service last year, it's probably too early for Christmas transport schedules to be announced yet. A pre-booked Car service is another option, although it will be more expensive on Christmas Day.

Posted by
4528 posts

Crossrail is a new criss London railway service with a tunnel from Paddington to Liverpool Street. Presumably advantage is being taken of the holiday to do work otherwise not possible.

You might want to book a car service.

Posted by
4890 posts

A money saving alternative would be the regular Tube, which would certainly be running, on a less frequent schedule, in the daytime on Christmas. You can go directly from Heathrow to Kings Cross for a couple of pounds. It is a slower ride than the expensive Heathrow Express, but that doesn't go to King's Cross anyway. Allow an hour. You will see this route on the Tube map.

Edit: My thanks to those who politely corrected my stupid answer. I'm quite disillusioned, since European mass transit is usually so much better than in the U.S.. We took the Tube last May on that route. I knew the Tube closed overnight, but I'm staggered that it doesn't run on Christmas.

Posted by
4528 posts

Last year there was an hourly coach service from Heathrow to London provided by Oxford Tube as an extension of the coach services to and from Oxford at a cost of £10. They haven't yet announced if they are doing this again.

Posted by
932 posts

Thank you for all the fast responses! Looks like I will keep checking back as the time approaches to see if there are any alternatives to cabs or car services. I did look at one car service website and it was over 100 pounds. Not sure where my parents got the figures, but they said that it would cost 60 pounds via cab to our hotel. I will use the resources above to find a cab/car unless something pops up between now and then. I imagine a private company could make a killing if they ran a bus service on Christmas day!

Posted by
4528 posts

Hope you got a good flight discount for arriving on Xmas Day.

Posted by
506 posts

We got stuck a bit around one of the strikes last spring and we ended up taking a Black Cab from the airport and liked it so much did it to go back. In the big picture it really wasn't that horrible a price when you figure what you will spend on a vacation like this anyway. It just made that part of a long trip easy and relaxing.

Posted by
932 posts

Marco, we haven't even bought our airline tickets yet. I'm holding out for one of the airlines to have a sale. It's not the flight on Christmas Day that's killing us, it's coming back on January 4th that's so expensive... There's been an update to my question. Apparently our hotel can arrange a taxi for us! I'm still going to check closer to the date to see if any alternatives pop up. Thanks again to all for your advice. Hopefully this thread will help someone else, too!

Posted by
1063 posts

"Apparently our hotel can arrange a taxi for us"

That's OK but be aware that you will probably pay a premium for that (to cover the hotel's cut), on top of the premium for traveling on Xmas Day.

Posted by
4666 posts

There are never any tube or rail services in London on Christmas Day, I don't know where people got that impression.

As mentioned above there is often some form of bus service from Heathrow to central London on Christmas Day - see the tfl website for details, but it will probably go to Victoria which is quite a distance from Kings Cross.

But seriously, I would suggest NOT flying in on Christmas Day at all - the cabs will be charging a premium price, no shops and few restaurants will be open...

Posted by
4528 posts

Think my reference to getting a good deal on the Xmas Day flight was not understood - flights on that day should be cheap as they aren't popular.

There used to be underground services on Xmas Day, until some time in the mid 1970s. Main line rail services stopped in the mid 1960s.

There are some coach and bus services these days in various parts run by Stagecoach / Megabus.

Posted by
5632 posts

The concept that public transport shuts down on Christmas Day in London is something that many Yanks don't understand. Nor the idea that virtually every shop, cafe, tourist site, etc is closed! Then again this yank despises the gratuitousness greed of corporate America as Xmas items are already being hawked for sale and consumption in stores. Dang, we haven't even celebrated Halloween yet! It's tiresome and sad.

IMHO the Brits seem to better appreciate and honor the concept of family time on Christmas day than we do. Have been in London for at least three Christmas days. It's lovely. Serene. Families out and about enjoying one another's company. Great day to walk and explore and relish the quiet beauty of a great city. Time to reflect.

Christmas Eve services are glorious. May favorite was at St. Paul's. As we exited a light snow had begun to fall, the church bells peeled, a chill in the air. For this Californian who lives in the Megalopolis of sunshine I remember saying, "So this is what Christmas Day should feel like!!!"

You'll find a cab. Just expect to pay a premium price.

Enjoy your visit. GREAT after Xmas sales, just don't expect to find Harrod's open.

Posted by
4528 posts

The benefit of being in London in Xmas Day is the much reduced level of traffic, which is why there are groups that organise bike rides, walks and the suchlike every year.

Posted by
932 posts

I wasn't mad or confused about the lack of public transportation, Claudia. I think it's great that all the employees can enjoy the holiday with their family! :D And it IS infuriating how commercialized Christmas is! I was just asking for suggestions of the best idea for getting into London. I understand that Christmas Day travel is a bit more difficult, but it's more expensive to fly in on the 24th, and I don't want to fly in after Christmas as we're trying to get the most days out of our trip. Even if we spend $100 on a cab, we're saving hundreds arriving on the 25th over the 24th. And we're going to book dinner at a pub so we'll be fed. Then we'll probably just go to sleep! Harley, thanks for the heads up on the premium. Once we have our flights settled, we will look into pre-arranging transportation the cheapest way. But I'm still watching for a bus ride in through one of the suggested routes above... A cab from Victoria to King's Cross should be cheaper than all the way from Heathrow, right?

Posted by
295 posts

The tube doesn't run on Christmas Day as well as no National Express bus service. Basically, no public transportation on Christmas Day. Not a lot of options then. You can always take a taxi or hire a car service. I wish there was another option.

Posted by
25749 posts

Your hotel is near Kings Cross, Amy? Is that so you can take the train to York, or is the railway irrelevant? The reason I ask is that most trains do NOT operate on Boxing Day, the 26th.

Posted by
932 posts

Nigel, it just turned out that the hotel that met most of our needs was near King's Cross. We're not going to York. Well, I don't know. Maybe we will! We haven't come up with all our activities for our visit yet! But if you're referring to Christmas Day, we're just flying in and going to our hotel. Joni, thank you for the link. I will check that out. I was perusing Rick's book last night, and he had the link for a shuttle service. After finding that website, I stumbled on another one. So it looks like I've found a few shuttle services that will also be running! We realize that we're going to be doing a lot of walking on the 25th and 26th. And according to TimeOut, there WILL be tube service on Boxing Day starting at 8:30am and running on a special schedule.

Posted by
1063 posts

" I stumbled on another one."

Would that be the one that's just going out of business?

Posted by
5632 posts

Amy, knew you weren't angry but merely seeking information about best options. My comments about Yanks being shocked about the lack of public transport wasn't directed at you at all. Apologies if you felt so. Another FYI about London on Xmas day is that due to it's diverse populous you will find some cafes, shops and restaurants open. Christianity isn't the only religion prevalent in London so to many residents, it just another day. Last Xmas visit had a plentiful breakfast at a cafe in Bayswater. Have a wonderful visit.

Posted by
1217 posts

If you can change lodging, it might be an option to spend the first night at a Heathrow airport hotel, and then go into the city the next day when things are a bit more normal.

Posted by
25749 posts

I distinguish between what I call trains - the mainline train network throughout the country - and what I call the Underground - the subway trains in London, even though they are made up of specialist trains.

Posted by
932 posts

Harley, by "stumbled on another one" I meant I found another one. :D I guess that's American slang and I didn't realize it! Selkie, I did consider staying near Heathrow. My parents and husband just wanted to get to our hotel and get settled, so this is the route we chose. I couldn't believe how cheap hotels near Heathrow were! Claudia, I did think about some sort of Asian cuisine on Christmas! But we have located a pub (Little Bay Farringdon's) that's a 15 minute walk from the hotel and we have made reservations for a 3pm dinner. I'm excited to experience this tradition! And it's a five course meal, so we we will probably have to roll our fat selves back to the hotel... At least we won't have to worry about another meal that night! I understand what you meant now, Nigel. It sounds like we're crazy not to do a little shopping that day. Could one compare Boxing Day to our Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)?

Posted by
25749 posts

Boxing Day is an interesting one. There is quite a dichotomy.

Many businesses close or turn the gas way down for the full week between Christmas and New Year so many people are at home on Boxing Day.

Many shops and other tourist places are closed on Boxing Day - the name comes from the old custom of giving a box (or envelope) to the postman, milkman, and other outside callers in recognition of their services throughout the year - but some attractions are open and some shops start their January Sales on Boxing Day or the day after Boxing Day.

Because I work in a business which is open nearly 24 hours a day for 363 days a year, I really look forward to the peace and quiet of Christmas and Boxing Day when I am guaranteed not to work - I work on the railways. I know it is inconvenient for tourists, but I like to rest for 2 days when other people are at home too.

Posted by
1063 posts

"Harley, by "stumbled on another one" I meant I found another one. :D I guess that's American slang and I didn't realize it!"

I did understand what you meant, we use that phrase as well, sorry didn't realise that you were talking about shuttles to Heathrow hotels rather than London. You do realise that staying at Heathrow can be a false economy with regards to travel costs and time taken to get into London.

Posted by
506 posts

Amy at the very worst option, why don't you just take a hotel at the airport for the night, get a good night sleep and then go into London on the day after. Most of the bigger hotels have nice restaurant. For goodness sake London a world class city could not possibly come to a complete close down on Christmas. And if you really want into London on that day I am sure Taxi's (will cost you, hey it is a holiday!) will be plentiful to get people around. If there is a will there is a way! Happy Holiday!

Posted by
5632 posts

I've enjoyed a full course "traditional" pub Xmas dinner (supper) in London. Hopefully, poppers will be included so the experience will be a true Xmas dinner. Festive and fun. I promise, you'll laugh. Not only will you find Asian themed meals. You'll find Armenian, African, Lebanese, etc. as well. London is a melting pot, literally and figuratively.

As far as shopping on Boxing Day if my recollection is correct ( a bit suspect as the years pass) and if your hubby is a sports fan, Lillywhites on Regent Street at Piccadilly Circus is THE spot to shop. http://www.lillywhites.com. One of my favorite travel photos is of my better half, with glee in his eyes, holding up three "on sale" rugby jerseys across the crowded store. Like a kid in a candy store he was. In fact, has one of them on this morning. I'm sure the local rags will have advertisements.

FYI, early Xmas morning if you are anywhere close to Hyde Park you might enjoy watching the annual Peter Pan Cup Race in the Serpentine. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/pictures-serpentine-swimmers-take-icy-2958857 Amusing, great photo op and a way to strike up a conversation or enjoy a hot toddy.

Another custom I found agreeable was watching The Queen's Royal Christmas Message. Suspect both BBC and/or ITV (the two UK networks) will broadcast it.

Trust me. Walk around. Enjoy the lack of hustle and bustle. It's relaxing and a great way to experience the holiday with Londoners! http://www.londontown.com/London/Christmas-Day-and-Boxing-Day

Lastly, yes Judy, London is world class city. Unique and as such absolutely DOES shut down for the most part on Christmas day. Honestly. Been there, done that and I must confess, by doing so, makes me appreciate it's uniqueness even more! It's Christmas. We are taking the day off. So there.

Posted by
25749 posts

For goodness sake London a world class city could not possibly come to a complete close down on Christmas.

It gives it a bloody good try.

Posted by
932 posts

Nigel, enjoy your holiday! I'm sure you've earned it! Thank you for the explanation of Boxing Day. It's a holiday that I heard of my whole life (because it's on even US calendars) but I never paid any attention. And this is one of the great things about traveling -- learning about the big holidays for everyone else!
As far as staying at Heathrow on Christmas night, that's now a moot point. We have put a deposit down for a Christmas dinner in London. But it definitely was a good option. By the way, what is acceptable dress for Christmas dinner at a restaurant? Or does it depend on the restaurant? My husband will probably insist on jeans. But if he wore a nice top with nice shoes, do you think that would be dressy enough? Or should I just ask the restaurant if there is a dress code?
Claudia, thank you so much for the suggestion of Lillywhites. We will definitely be going there! Our flight arrives into Heathrow at 11:30am, so I think that's too late for the swim at Hyde Park? And is the Queen's message at 15:00? If so, we'll be at dinner. Maybe they will broadcast it at the restaurant?
And LOL to the "poppers" comments!!!

Posted by
4528 posts

I was going to say he same about Lillywhites (bought by Sports Direct), although it is a bit more like its old self away from the ground floor.

M&W were on The Ed Sullivan Show a few times, so at least they tried to cross the Atlantic.

Posted by
8293 posts

Emma, my father always made us watch the TV on Christmas Day for the Queen's Speech. But in those days, we imitated her by saying "Meh husband and Ai ...."

Posted by
5632 posts

Okay, okay, party poppers although given I lived through the sixties, I'm aware of a better life through chemistry. For yankee comparison, Lillywhites isn't Neiman Marcus nor Walmart. Somewhere in between. Apologies, forgot you are arriving Christmas Day so, of course, the Peter Pan cup race is out of the question. You are going to a pub for dinner. Jeans will be fine. Have fun!

Posted by
25749 posts

by using the term "party poppers" I believe that Claudia could also be referring to Christmas Crackers which are a hollow cardboard tube wrapped in a sort of a pretty wrapping paper and tied off at both ends to form a surface that can be grabbed and pulled from both ends. Inside is a tiny explosive strip that hen pulled goes "bang!!" with a snapping sound, so when the cracker is pulled it comes apart with a bang and things fall out. Usually inside is a folded up paper hat, a really bad riddle, and a small toy or other small gift.

When two people pull a cracker the one who has the larger part gets the goodies. Normally the hats get put on, the riddles read out, and groaned to, and the little toys explored. There should be one cracker in front of each person at the dinner, and the crackers should be held cross armed with all the other people at the table, so my right hand with the person to my left, and and my left hand with the person to my right.

Hopefully there is one hat, one gift, and one really bad riddle for everybody.

Posted by
1063 posts

"A more important Christmas tradition for me is watching any of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials! They still make me laugh after literally 100s of views. Not sure it travels culturally though?"

It wouldn't be Christmas without a Morcambe & Wise Christmas special repeat.

Posted by
5632 posts

Although never had the pleasure of watching Morecambe and Wise, 13 years ago we did see The Play What I Wrote which is a tribute to their brilliant humor. Got tickets at the 1/2 price booth, were seated in the very first row, became part of the show. Other than seeing the sterling Victor Borge in his prime have NEVER laughed so hard in my life. Well, maybe the day I stayed in the apartment we'd rented and watched French and Saunders on the tube. Was battling a cold. The tears of laughter further clogged my sinuses. Didn't care. The laughter helped my morale. If you can, see a pantomime (panto) while you are there. A lovely and fun UK holiday tradition. http://www.bigpantoguide.co.uk/london.php

Posted by
22 posts

We used LondonAirportTransport last month. I believe it is the same company as ExpressAirTransport, who does transport outside of London. Purchase their services at your risk. The person that picked us up at Heathrow was a careful driver; however, he got lost in London and couldn't find our hotel which is very close to Buckingham Palace and one of the oldest in London. We drove around in circles for about 45 minutes, when at last he took a "new" turn and I saw our hotel. We prepaid this company for 4 transports and the remaining three were fine. We still had a uncomfortable feeling that we would be picked up on time, etc.

Posted by
32 posts

Just discovered this; I hope you've found transportation in the meantime.

I wondered how did you discover that transportation would be a problem?
We are arriving in London on New Years Day (approximately 3pm) and it hadn't even occurred to me that transportation could be a problem. (Last trip we took the tube from Heathrow to Gloucester Road station. I just assumed that the tube operated 365 days/year.)

Posted by
4528 posts

Everything more or less will be operating then - there is the New Year's Day Parade for one thing.

The information on a day by day basis is at: http://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/festive-travel

Note that some closures through Twixtmas for engineering works, particularly at London Bridge and on the District and Jubilee Lines. Should be all over by NYE.

Posted by
1063 posts

" I just assumed that the tube operated 365 days/year.)"

Ah, dangerous to assume, different country different customs although you will be OK on New Years Day, it's only Christmas Day that public transport is shutdown.

Posted by
4528 posts

The London Underground did operate on Christmas Day until sometime in the 1970s. The last few years there were so few people using it that it was cheaper not to employ people to sell tickets compared with the lost revenue. The total lack of demand might be different in today's London, but it would take a lot to get it started again.

Posted by
932 posts

Nanjo, I think I read it on Timeout London's website. The site is a wealth of information! And yes, we're squared away. We arranged a car through Just Airports.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for those websites, Amy and Marco. Those will be useful for planning.
Never thought we'd be traveling in winter!

Posted by
37 posts

Sorry--joining in way too late. First of all, so jealous you will be there at Xmas time! And contrary to the movie Love, Actually, nothing is happening Xmas Eve and Xmas Day as far as transporation, school plays and so forth. If the trains from the airport are actually not running, or seem to be on a limited schedule, it would make sense to just get a car service. My sister and I have used Meadway--they are not a service that picks up a 100 people all over the city. They will come with the car or van you need and take you from point A to point B. My sister used them earlier this year and they were still a reliable, safe service. Enjoy!